TIFTON — The 16th Annual Children’s Farm Day was held Friday, Nov. 8 at the school farm.
Farm Day is an event driven and taught by students. Students from both the middle and high schools come up with the fundraisers for the event, put the exhibits together, staff the stations and teach approximately 550 third graders at the different stations.
The stations were staffed by students from Tift County High School, who worked tirelessly to learn the material so they would know it well enough to teach it.
Brittaney Schwing, an agriculture education teacher and Future Farmers of America teacher at Tift County High School, said the students prepare for months to teach.
“We have approximately 150 FFA members from Eighth Street Middle School, Northeast Middle School and Tift County High School who are running this event,” she said. “They take the information they learn in their classroom and they apply it to create educational booths for the third graders.”
Some of the 32 booths had live animals, such as rabbits, pigs, goats, sheep, horses and turkeys. Other booths demonstrated the importance of technology in agriculture and in daily life, such as the station demonstrating solar power and how grass prevents soil erosion.
One station held a demonstration of a trained hunting dog and anothershowed kids live examples of wild native species like snakes.
Schwing said that one of the reasons they host the Farm Day is to teach the children where their food, clothes and materials to build their homes comes from.
“We recognize that these third graders are going to be the leaders in our community and our state,” she said. “Agriculture is our number one industry, so we want them to have the education they need to successfully run Tift County and the State of Georgia. We want them to be successful in their careers. We want them to graduate from high school and we know that if we can get them the education they need now they’ll be more likely to do that later on.”
She said that many students will end up working in some agricultural or agriculture-related or dependent field and Farm Day is a way to prepare them for that early. The event is also a good foray into agriculture education, as well as logistics.
“The students organize all of the details, like getting the livestock or setting up the hydroponics booth or setting up the solar energy area,” Schwing said. “We’re seeing lots of students that have been through this as third graders now presenting, and that’s pretty cool too.”
Back for another year was a rodeo demonstration, which allowed students to watch highly-trained horses and riders show their skills in calf roping and barrel racing and this year the organizers added an agriculture safety demonstration by Colquitt EMC.
“It takes a lot of people to get this to run smoothly every year,” Schwing said. “We have people from the community come.”
She said that the nutrition staff at the schools, area businesses, the school board and alumni all contribute to Farm Day.
“The main purpose of the event is to create agricultural literacy in young people,” said CTAE Director Fred Rayfield. “There’s no telling how many aspects of agriculture you see out here, and they get a snapshot of each one as they rotate through the stations. It’s also an agricultural literacy event for some of the adults who are involved, the teachers from the elementary schools, the parents and volunteers they bring with them. Sometimes it’s as much a learning experience for them as it is for the students.”